As the variety of bearable Christmas movies is not so wide, at some point during the long & all-eating holidays you might want to return to normal life. And watch a normal, non – Christmas related film. If you end up with Berman’s and Pulcini’s picture The Extra Man on your screen, be sure, that this will be anything but normal.
The Extra Man puts the hype New York far behind to focus on a young man Louis Ives (Paul Dano), who comes to Manhattan to find himself (note, that it is the twenty first century, and nowadays people go somewhere South – Asia for this matter). Being only 25 or so, he seems to be at least 70. His way of dressing, and his way of being makes him a misfit in nowadays New York. The Young Louis Ives seems to be pulled out from the twenties and sticked into the scenery of the twenty-first century. It comes as no surprise that he settles in with a roommate, who is a little bit less than trice of his age.
This is the decadent figure of Henry Harrison. He says to be a playwright and works as an escort for the elderly widows in town (his eldest client is 92!). He drinks a lot, has a habit to dance very awkwardly and… has fleas. Harrison is not a typical character for a man his age. He seems to be stuck at his early thirties.
Nevertheless this movie has no sex scenes or whatsoever, it is still capable to send the shivers down the spectator’s spine. Mainly because of the enormous close-up of the aging problem. Generally, all the characters from Harrison’s acquaintances are nothing but a grotesque pictures of a long gone youth, acting desperately to prove themselves, that they’re still alive. Also Harrison himself is being observed so closely, that it gives a clear picture of the old man’s daily routines, which sometimes is far above the amount we would want to know.
Speaking of the leading actor Paul Dano, he’s the perfect choice for the role of Louis Ives. Being a born New Yorker he seems to be really at ease with the setting. The particularity about this actor is that the directors are able to change his figure very radically in order to construct a character they need, but still, he has his uniqueness, not too imposing, but very important for the originality.
The Extra Man is to be watched as a break from the mass of New York based movies, which treat the Big Apple like a center of modernity and youth. This picture gives sneak-peak into another layer of New York’s multi – layer society. With faded colors, so NY characteristic grayish – brown shades and scruffy settings this film reminds that the time is passing by really quickly and that there is plenty that we don’t know about this city or its inhabitants.